Dave Frishberg

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Dave Frishberg
Dave Frishberg.jpg
Dick Sheridan and Dave Frishberg
Background information
Born (1933-03-23) March 23, 1933 (age 85)
Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
GenresJazz, vocal jazz, swing
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
InstrumentsPiano, vocals
LabelsArbors, Blue Note/EMI
Associated actsEddie Condon, Bob Dorough

David L. "Dave" Frishberg (born March 23, 1933) is an American jazz pianist, vocalist, composer, and lyricist born in Saint Paul, Minnesota. His songs have been performed by Blossom Dearie, Rosemary Clooney, Shirley Horn,[1] Anita O'Day, Michael Feinstein, Irene Kral, Diana Krall, Stacey Kent, John Pizzarelli and Mel Tormé.

Frishberg wrote the music and lyrics for "I'm Just a Bill", the song about the forlorn legislative writ in the ABC Schoolhouse Rock! series, which was later transformed into the popular revue Schoolhouse Rock Live. For Schoolhouse Rock! he also wrote and performed "Walkin' on Wall Street", a song that describes how the stock market works, and "$7.50 Once a Week", a song about saving money and balancing a budget.

He wrote "Van Lingle Mungo", a novelty song consisting solely of the names of Major League Baseball players.


Frishberg resisted learning classical piano as a boy, developing an interest in blues and boogie-woogie by listening to recordings by Pete Johnson and Jay McShann. As a teenager he played in the house band at the Flame in St. Paul where Art Tatum, Billie Holiday, and Johnny Hodges appeared. After graduating from the University of Minnesota as a journalism major in 1955, Frishberg spent two years in the Air Force.[2]

In 1957, Frishberg moved to New York City,[3] where he played solo piano at the Duplex in Greenwich Village. He first became known for his work with Carmen McRae, Ben Webster, Gene Krupa, Bud Freeman, Eddie Condon, Al Cohn, and Zoot Sims. Later he was celebrated for writing and performing his own, frequently humorous, songs, including favorites "I'm Hip" (lyrics only, in collaboration with Bob Dorough),[4] "Blizzard of Lies",[5] "My Attorney Bernie" (his most famous),[6] "Do You Miss New York", "Peel Me a Grape", "Quality Time", "Slappin' the Cakes on Me", "I Want To Be A Sideman", and "Van Lingle Mungo", whose lyrics consist entirely of the names of old-time baseball players.[7]

In 1971, Frishberg moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a studio musician, and where he also recorded his first albums. In 1986, he moved to Portland, Oregon.[8]

Frishberg cites songwriter Frank Loesser as an influence,[9] and has said that Loesser's "Baby, It's Cold Outside", along with Willie Nelson's "Crazy", are songs he wished he had written. Like Loesser before him, Frishberg has also worked strictly as a lyricist, collaborating with composers Johnny Mandel, Alan Broadbent, Al Cohn, Blossom Dearie, David Shire, Julius Wechter, Dan Barrett, Bob Brookmeyer, Bob Dorough, Gerry Mulligan, and Johnny Hodges.[4]

He was the co-recipient of the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song in 1981, having written the lyric to "Baby Talk" from the Burt Reynolds comedy film Paternity.

Frishberg is a longtime baseball fan, and has been a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) since 1984.[10] In addition to "Van Lingle Mungo", he also wrote "Matty", a tribute to an early 20th century pitching great, which was included along with "Play Ball" and several other songs with baseball references, on the 1994 CD Quality Time.[11]

Select discography[edit]

As leader/co-leader[edit]

Year recorded Title Label Personnel
1969 Oklahoma Toad CTI Octet, with Bill Berry (trumpet), Al Cohn (tenor sax), Garnett Brown (trombone) and others
1977 Getting Some Fun Out of Life Concord Quintet, with Marshall Royal (clarinet), Bob Findley (trumpet), Larry Gales (bass), Steve Schaeffer (drums)
1978 You're a Lucky Guy Concord Quintet, with Bob Brookmeyer (valve trombone), Al Cohn (tenor sax), Jim Hughart (bass), Nik Ceroli (drums)
1984 Live at Vine Street Fantasy Solo piano and vocals
1987 Can't Take You Nowhere Fantasy Solo piano
1992 Double Play Arbors Duo, with Jim Goodwin (clarinet)
1998? By Himself Arbors Solo piano and vocals
2002 Do You Miss New York? Arbors Solo piano and vocals
2005 Retromania Arbors Solo piano and vocals; in concert
Quality Time Sterling

Main source:[12]

As sideman[edit]

With Rebecca Kilgore

  • The Starlit Hour (Arbors)
  • Not a Care in the World (Arbors)
  • Why Fight the Feeling: Songs By Frank Loesser (Arbors)

Further reading[edit]

  • Balliett, Whitney (1988). American Singers: 27 Portraits in Song. New York, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-504610-2.


  1. ^ Steve Futterman (August 22, 2001). "The Inimitable Dave Frishberg". The Washington Post.
  2. ^ Don Berryman (November 27, 2005). "Dave Frishberg at the Jazz Bakery Nov 29 - Dec 4th". Jazz Police. Archived from the original on January 16, 2016.
  3. ^ Andrea Canter (March 13, 2006). "Getting Some Fun Out of Life and Music: Back in St. Paul With David Frishberg". Jazz Police. Archived from the original on October 30, 2006.
  4. ^ a b "Dave Frishberg Song Catalogue". DaveFrishberg.net.
  5. ^ Mike Joyce (July 24, 1989). "Dave Frishberg". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ Stephen Holden (October 19, 2006). "Her Voice, His Tender, Cruel Songs". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Dave Frishberg's Personal, Peculiar Compositions Songs of Himself". San Jose Mercury News. July 1, 1994.
  8. ^ https://www.davefrishberg.net/long_bio.php retrieved 10/20/17
  9. ^ Ketzel Levine (April 19, 2004). "Intersections: Reviving the Art of the Witty Lyric; Dave Frishberg's Deft, Wry Wording Recalls an Earlier Era". NPR.
  10. ^ SABR Digital Library: Van Lingle Mungo: The Man, The Song, The Players, accessed December 19, 2014
  11. ^ AllMusic review, by Scott Yanow, accessed December 19, 2014
  12. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 514. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.

External links[edit]